The new Space Race

Discussions about serious topics, for serious people
User avatar
Vertigowooyay
Snowbonk
Posts: 407
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 1:25 pm

The new Space Race

Post by Vertigowooyay » Fri Jul 02, 2021 2:26 pm

https://www.theguardian.com/science/202 ... -nine-days

Please help me out here. I know space exploration is expensive. I know space exploration has advanced human knowledge, and contributed to humankind in ways that couldn’t have been foreseen at the time.

But every fibre of my brain is screaming that this is two ego driven billionaires, with questionable behavior towards their employees during a global pandemic, having a dick measuring competition spending billions that was denied many of the aforementioned employees.

So does the potential scientific advancement of either mission outweigh my brain’s immediate reaction?
Calm yourself Doctor NotTheNineO’ClockNews. We’re men of science. We fear no worldly terrors.

tom p
Dorkwood
Posts: 1107
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 1:14 pm
Location: the low countries

Re: The new Space Race

Post by tom p » Fri Jul 02, 2021 2:36 pm

Vertigowooyay wrote:
Fri Jul 02, 2021 2:26 pm
https://www.theguardian.com/science/202 ... -nine-days

Please help me out here. I know space exploration is expensive. I know space exploration has advanced human knowledge, and contributed to humankind in ways that couldn’t have been foreseen at the time.

But every fibre of my brain is screaming that this is two ego driven billionaires, with questionable behavior towards their employees during a global pandemic, having a dick measuring competition spending billions that was denied many of the aforementioned employees.

So does the potential scientific advancement of either mission outweigh my brain’s immediate reaction?
Are the Tesla staff badly paid or mistreated?
Genuine question - I haven't been paying attention to it at all

Holylol
Buzzberry
Posts: 41
Joined: Tue Nov 19, 2019 10:14 am

Re: The new Space Race

Post by Holylol » Fri Jul 02, 2021 2:51 pm

tom p wrote:
Fri Jul 02, 2021 2:36 pm
Are the Tesla staff badly paid or mistreated?
Genuine question - I haven't been paying attention to it at all
I don't remember where I read something about it (I'd need some time with Google and a beer), but a few years ago there were articles about the working environment on Tesla's production lines. And the fact that when some people were thinking about unionizing, this wasn't received very well (intimidations and so on).

User avatar
Woodchopper
Stummy Beige
Posts: 3695
Joined: Sat Oct 12, 2019 9:05 am

Re: The new Space Race

Post by Woodchopper » Fri Jul 02, 2021 3:01 pm

tom p wrote:
Fri Jul 02, 2021 2:36 pm
Vertigowooyay wrote:
Fri Jul 02, 2021 2:26 pm
https://www.theguardian.com/science/202 ... -nine-days

Please help me out here. I know space exploration is expensive. I know space exploration has advanced human knowledge, and contributed to humankind in ways that couldn’t have been foreseen at the time.

But every fibre of my brain is screaming that this is two ego driven billionaires, with questionable behavior towards their employees during a global pandemic, having a dick measuring competition spending billions that was denied many of the aforementioned employees.

So does the potential scientific advancement of either mission outweigh my brain’s immediate reaction?
Are the Tesla staff badly paid or mistreated?
Genuine question - I haven't been paying attention to it at all
Probably a question for a different thread as this pissing contest is between Branson and Bezos.

User avatar
veravista
Snowbonk
Posts: 541
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 7:29 pm
Location: Directly above the centre of the earth

Re: The new Space Race

Post by veravista » Fri Jul 02, 2021 3:09 pm

Well here's hoping Beardy is fireproof. Not that I'd wish him ill....

tom p
Dorkwood
Posts: 1107
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 1:14 pm
Location: the low countries

Re: The new Space Race

Post by tom p » Fri Jul 02, 2021 3:10 pm

Woodchopper wrote:
Fri Jul 02, 2021 3:01 pm
tom p wrote:
Fri Jul 02, 2021 2:36 pm
Vertigowooyay wrote:
Fri Jul 02, 2021 2:26 pm
https://www.theguardian.com/science/202 ... -nine-days

Please help me out here. I know space exploration is expensive. I know space exploration has advanced human knowledge, and contributed to humankind in ways that couldn’t have been foreseen at the time.

But every fibre of my brain is screaming that this is two ego driven billionaires, with questionable behavior towards their employees during a global pandemic, having a dick measuring competition spending billions that was denied many of the aforementioned employees.

So does the potential scientific advancement of either mission outweigh my brain’s immediate reaction?
Are the Tesla staff badly paid or mistreated?
Genuine question - I haven't been paying attention to it at all
Probably a question for a different thread as this pissing contest is between Branson and Bezos.
d'oh! silly me, I was assuming it was musk & bezos.
cheers

User avatar
shpalman
Light of Blast
Posts: 4946
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 12:53 pm
Location: One step beyond

Re: The new Space Race

Post by shpalman » Fri Jul 02, 2021 3:16 pm

The term "space exploration" has never made much sense to me. I'm not "exploring" the world when I go to stand outside on the balcony of my apartment.
molto tricky

User avatar
Martin Y
After Pie
Posts: 2097
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 1:08 pm

Re: The new Space Race

Post by Martin Y » Fri Jul 02, 2021 3:28 pm

shpalman wrote:
Fri Jul 02, 2021 3:16 pm
The term "space exploration" has never made much sense to me. I'm not "exploring" the world when I go to stand outside on the balcony of my apartment.
Well I suppose you get to "explore" the practicalities of being outside instead of being safe and cosy indoors, plus you get a very nice view while you do it and nice views generally tend to the expensive. But yes, you're similarly unlikely to find any strange new worlds and new civilisations.

User avatar
bolo
Catbabel
Posts: 816
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 1:17 pm
Location: Washington DC

Re: The new Space Race

Post by bolo » Fri Jul 02, 2021 3:53 pm

Woodchopper wrote:
Fri Jul 02, 2021 3:01 pm
tom p wrote:
Fri Jul 02, 2021 2:36 pm
Are the Tesla staff badly paid or mistreated?
Genuine question - I haven't been paying attention to it at all
Probably a question for a different thread as this pissing contest is between Branson and Bezos.
Also, fwiw, the company that Musk uses for his part of this particular pissing contest is SpaceX, not Tesla. Although you both know that, I'm sure.

IvanV
Fuzzable
Posts: 281
Joined: Mon May 17, 2021 11:12 am

Re: The new Space Race

Post by IvanV » Fri Jul 02, 2021 4:49 pm

The only potential prizes here are monetary: mainly a contract to supply space launch services. Space tourism is probably a bit on the side, and very dubious in terms of its carbon footprint. If private space launch services can be materially more efficient than state launch services, then they offer a gain that money for space science and satellite services goes further. So any scientific gain from the space activities of these BSDs is at best indirect.

Beardy has much shallower pockets than Bezos and Musk. I somehow don't believe he is likely to be competitive. I don't find him particularly credible in open competition in general. He has generally only made money from ventures granted privileges: like Virgin Atlantic being one of just four airlines able to fly from Heathrow to the USA for a long time; and the contractual grip Virgin Trains gained on the government by the threat of suing the pants off Network Rail, which had breached a contract where it guaranteed to providing 140mph running on the west coast main line, for a sum of money and by a date that look a complete joke considering what it ended up achieving. And would it be cheap to mention how he ran a business 50 years ago which made money by selling records cheaper than anyone else could, but only because it was engaged in VAT fraud, for which Branson was duly convicted. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_B ... ax_evasion Yes, it probably would be cheap to mention it.

User avatar
shpalman
Light of Blast
Posts: 4946
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 12:53 pm
Location: One step beyond

Re: The new Space Race

Post by shpalman » Fri Jul 02, 2021 5:28 pm

These space tourists will never go into orbit though will they? They'll reach an altitude of about 100 km and then just fall* back down for a few minutes. Yes it's above the Kármán line but the ISS for example is at about 400 km and we already know how to send rockets to that.

But it's not like the space race in the 60's wasn't dick-waving between the US and Russia.

* - to be fair, you're weightless for those few minutes for the same reason you'd be weightless in orbit, but then it's also the same reason you'd be weightless in a "vomit comet".
molto tricky

User avatar
Gfamily
Stummy Beige
Posts: 2747
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 1:00 pm
Location: NW England

Re: The new Space Race

Post by Gfamily » Fri Jul 02, 2021 5:58 pm

shpalman wrote:
Fri Jul 02, 2021 5:28 pm
These space tourists will never go into orbit though will they? They'll reach an altitude of about 100 km and then just fall* back down for a few minutes. Yes it's above the Kármán line but the ISS for example is at about 400 km and we already know how to send rockets to that.

But it's not like the space race in the 60's wasn't dick-waving between the US and Russia.

* - to be fair, you're weightless for those few minutes for the same reason you'd be weightless in orbit, but then it's also the same reason you'd be weightless in a "vomit comet".
or jumping off a diving board.
My avatar was a scientific result that was later found to be 'mistaken' - I rarely claim to be 100% correct
ETA 5/8/20: I've been advised that the result was correct, it was the initial interpretation that needed to be withdrawn
Meta? I'd say so!

User avatar
Gfamily
Stummy Beige
Posts: 2747
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 1:00 pm
Location: NW England

Re: The new Space Race

Post by Gfamily » Fri Jul 02, 2021 6:00 pm

However, it is good to see that Wally Funk will be on a flight soon.
It's worth reading Sue Nelson's book "Wally Funk's Race for Space", she's a force of nature.
My avatar was a scientific result that was later found to be 'mistaken' - I rarely claim to be 100% correct
ETA 5/8/20: I've been advised that the result was correct, it was the initial interpretation that needed to be withdrawn
Meta? I'd say so!

User avatar
shpalman
Light of Blast
Posts: 4946
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 12:53 pm
Location: One step beyond

Re: The new Space Race

Post by shpalman » Sun Jul 11, 2021 3:39 pm

VGX01 on FlightRadar24, not that it seems to be working or anything.
molto tricky

User avatar
Stephanie
After Pie
Posts: 2177
Joined: Wed Sep 25, 2019 4:38 pm
Location: clinging tenaciously to your buttocks

Re: The new Space Race

Post by Stephanie » Sun Jul 11, 2021 3:49 pm

i was going to start a thread on this, but call it "billionaire death watch"
"I got a flu virus named after me 'cause I kissed a bat on a dare."

WFJ
Stargoon
Posts: 97
Joined: Tue Jun 01, 2021 7:54 am

Re: The new Space Race

Post by WFJ » Sun Jul 11, 2021 4:51 pm

Beardy flew to 88 km which is not normally considered space, except by early US test pilots. Are his planes not able to reach 100 km, or did they just not bother for this test flight? If they are, it's a bit underwhelming for him to try to fly to space but miss.

User avatar
lpm
Stummy Beige
Posts: 3291
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 1:05 pm

Re: The new Space Race

Post by lpm » Sun Jul 11, 2021 5:38 pm

Branson is personally impressive and it's a remarkable achievement to do this on a relative shoestring.

But it's hard to see how edge of space joy rides will recoup the investment.
IvanV wrote:
Fri Jul 02, 2021 4:49 pm
I don't find him particularly credible in open competition in general. He has generally only made money from ventures granted privileges: like Virgin Atlantic being one of just four airlines able to fly from Heathrow to the USA for a long time; and the contractual grip Virgin Trains gained on the government by the threat of suing the pants off Network Rail... And would it be cheap to mention how he ran a business 50 years ago which made money by selling records cheaper than anyone else could, but only because it was engaged in VAT fraud, for which Branson was duly convicted. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_B ... ax_evasion Yes, it probably would be cheap to mention it.
This is crazy. The opposite of his business model.

Branson targets the most competitive markets out there and aims to win via better customer services. Often he takes on a massive but complacent market leader.

Magazines. Record retailing. The insanity of taking on BA. Mobile phones. Cruises. Gyms. Bridal shops. Coca cola. Credit cards. Retailing cars. Hotels.

The train thing was very much the exception to his usual ventures, but intended to be based on exceptional customer service (which failed initially) and ended up making a lot of money thanks to the UKs silly rail set up.

Space tourism isn't his natural arena - but huge publicity for his brand, which takes in millions each year on licencing income.
What ever happened to that Trump guy, you know, the one who was president for a bit?

IvanV
Fuzzable
Posts: 281
Joined: Mon May 17, 2021 11:12 am

Re: The new Space Race

Post by IvanV » Mon Jul 12, 2021 9:45 am

lpm wrote:
Sun Jul 11, 2021 5:38 pm
Branson targets the most competitive markets out there and aims to win via better customer services. Often he takes on a massive but complacent market leader.

Magazines. Record retailing. The insanity of taking on BA. Mobile phones. Cruises. Gyms. Bridal shops. Coca cola. Credit cards. Retailing cars. Hotels.
You've fallen for the myth.

What he is brilliant at is (1) getting marketing on the cheap, (2) imagining products people want.

What he is no good at is a well run business.

For example, I took out a "Virgin One Account" mortgage. Great innovative product, which later many others introduced similar. But he couldn't get it make money. He had to sell it on to Royal Bank of Scotland in fairly short order to run it properly. They continued using his "Virgin" branding for a bit, and then it just become the "One Account". Similarly the various Virgin Money investment products I bought got sold on and just used the Virgin Money branding, because it wasn't properly run.

He made money as a record label because he managed to get artists to take a lower royalty than the usual paid in the industry. Hey, it's really cool to be a Virgin artist, we're a cool company, not those horrible money machines. Though of course that is just what they were. The lower royalty rates were exploitation. So, once he had a valuable economic right he could exploit - in this case artist royalties at a higher than the usual rate - it didn' matter so much the company was badly run. in 1992, Virgin Records was sold to EMI, as Virgin Atlantic needed additional investment. In 1996 Branson set up V2 Records, and that eventually got sold to UMG who, who also got Virgin from EMI.

Later the airline business did become more competitive. But for a long time, Virgin Atlantic was the cash cow that covered the failures, or provided investments to introduce new products that he then had to sell on to others when they never made any money, because of its Heathrow privileges. He also flew really old planes. But he had another way he had of screwing money out of a business that wasn't running so well once things got harder. He'd sell a 49% share to an unwitting partner, who didn't realise what he did to people who got a 49% of one of his businesses. With 51%, you have absolute control and can do what you like. And he did. So when airlines got more competitive and VA was no longer making enough money, he sold 49% to Singapore Airlines. Who soon realised they'd been screwed, and spent forever trying to get rid of it. Their share was up for sale within 2 years, and I think it took them over 10 years to find a buyer.

Virgin Trains was another cash cow. Once Virgin won the West Coast contract, they soon realised they needed some competent people to help them run it. So he brought in Stagecoach, and managed his 51/49 trick again. You have to admire the guy for pulling that one on Brian Souter. Though in later incarnations Virgin became a 90/10 Stagecoach/Virgin deal. Brian realised the value of the Virgin brand, but he wasn't going to let Branson do him over again.

I now realise that Branson's "spacecraft" is no use as a launch vehicle, because it is not actually capable of going into space. It can only go to 90km, which is not "proper space" by the normal 100km definition. Though these definitions are necessarily somewhat arbitrary. So it is only useful as a tourist run. Musk and Bezos are definitely interested in the launch vehicle capability and earning money from NASA. So Branson is not going after the real prize here.

noggins
Clardic Fug
Posts: 206
Joined: Wed Nov 13, 2019 1:30 pm

Re: The new Space Race

Post by noggins » Mon Jul 12, 2021 10:17 am

Yes. Also there's nowt special about his fizzy pop or cruise line.

User avatar
shpalman
Light of Blast
Posts: 4946
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 12:53 pm
Location: One step beyond

Re: The new Space Race

Post by shpalman » Mon Jul 12, 2021 10:29 am

IvanV wrote:
Mon Jul 12, 2021 9:45 am
I now realise that Branson's "spacecraft" is no use as a launch vehicle, because it is not actually capable of going into space. It can only go to 90km, which is not "proper space" by the normal 100km definition. Though these definitions are necessarily somewhat arbitrary. So it is only useful as a tourist run. Musk and Bezos are definitely interested in the launch vehicle capability and earning money from NASA. So Branson is not going after the real prize here.
There would apparently be Virgin Orbit for that.

More of an issue for Unity and the SpaceShipTwo class, even if they get to 110 km altitude, is that 4000 km/h is way too slow for an orbit at that altitude. But then that's not what they are intended to do. They just get up there and then fall down.
molto tricky

IvanV
Fuzzable
Posts: 281
Joined: Mon May 17, 2021 11:12 am

Re: The new Space Race

Post by IvanV » Mon Jul 12, 2021 10:48 am

And seemingly sufficient to launch cubesats (<1.5kg).

User avatar
lpm
Stummy Beige
Posts: 3291
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 1:05 pm

Re: The new Space Race

Post by lpm » Mon Jul 12, 2021 11:22 am

IvanV wrote:
Mon Jul 12, 2021 9:45 am
lpm wrote:
Sun Jul 11, 2021 5:38 pm
Branson targets the most competitive markets out there and aims to win via better customer services. Often he takes on a massive but complacent market leader.

Magazines. Record retailing. The insanity of taking on BA. Mobile phones. Cruises. Gyms. Bridal shops. Coca cola. Credit cards. Retailing cars. Hotels.
You've fallen for the myth.

What he is brilliant at is (1) getting marketing on the cheap, (2) imagining products people want.

What he is no good at is a well run business.

For example, I took out a "Virgin One Account" mortgage. Great innovative product, which later many others introduced similar. But he couldn't get it make money. He had to sell it on to Royal Bank of Scotland in fairly short order to run it properly. They continued using his "Virgin" branding for a bit, and then it just become the "One Account". Similarly the various Virgin Money investment products I bought got sold on and just used the Virgin Money branding, because it wasn't properly run.
Sorry but I'm laughing pretty hard at this. You have missed the whole point of modern capitalist brands. The world's biggest company - Apple - can be summed up at being brilliant at marketing and brilliant at imagining products people want. Apple is the greatest brand the planet has ever seen. In the UK Dyson would be a smaller example - little substance to the company but an amazingly popular brand and great at imagining new products people seem to really like.

It's the whole point of the enterprise. Saying Virgin is merely brilliant at marketing and imagining products is like saying Goldman Sachs is nothing but a company that's very good at financial services and Tesco merely very good at the logistics of getting groceries to customers. Ikea, pah, nothing but a company that's really good at flat pack furniture.

Virgin is intended to be a brand and that's what it is. Obviously it's not as successful as Apple or Dyson. But does well enough. Branson's stunts feed back into the brand, making it "cool", allowing him to license the brand name to companies like Virgin Media or Virgin Money for a couple of hundred million quid a year. The brand is worth a billion or two as a result, which is obviously rather nice to own even if it isn't worth a trillion like Apple.

And here's you, taking out a bunch of Virgin Money products, proof that the brand works and can come up with new innovations. Their business goal was to dive into one of the most competitive markets out there - financial services - and they lured you in and so achieved their purpose. The whole point of Virgin is to then sell these ventures on to proper companies to do the actual hard work and rake in the brand fees. Branson & Co don't want the daily boredom of actually running an airline or train franchise or mobile operator or cruise ship. Even this "spaceship" thing is funded by Middle East oil and run by proper experts - Branson isn't sitting in board meetings discussing the audit committee's latest report.

Having Branson sit in a plane with Virgin logos everywhere and getting free marketing on live news broadcasts is job done for him. The harder work of making space tourism repay the investment will be a task for others.
What ever happened to that Trump guy, you know, the one who was president for a bit?

IvanV
Fuzzable
Posts: 281
Joined: Mon May 17, 2021 11:12 am

Re: The new Space Race

Post by IvanV » Mon Jul 12, 2021 12:10 pm

lpm wrote:
Mon Jul 12, 2021 11:22 am
...
Virgin is intended to be a brand and that's what it is. Obviously it's not as successful as Apple or Dyson. But does well enough. Branson's stunts feed back into the brand, making it "cool", allowing him to license the brand name to companies like Virgin Media or Virgin Money for a couple of hundred million quid a year. The brand is worth a billion or two as a result, which is obviously rather nice to own even if it isn't worth a trillion like Apple.

...The whole point of Virgin is to then sell these ventures on to proper companies to do the actual hard work and rake in the brand fees. Branson & Co don't want the daily boredom of actually running an airline or train franchise or mobile operator or cruise ship....
You are right, it has mostly become that. And his sensible decision to get out of running stuff is why he is rich today. But it wasn't how he started. And Virgin Group still owned 51% of Virgin Atlantic when it went bankrupt last year.

He did eventually realise he should specialise in what he was good at: marketing, innovation, and screwing co-investors. And as far as possible stop running things. But it took a long time to come to that realisation, and for around 30 years he tried to run things. And thought that was how he would make money. He ran Virgin Records and Virgin Atlantic for many years. It was only later he realised the potential of selling his companies on. Or in fact 49% the better to screw his partners. Virgin Records was plainly a distressed sale, and I doubt he would have done it at that time if he could have avoided it. I'm not convinced he initially set up his financial services companies with the intention of selling them on and getting out of it, though later it became that. I'm not convinced that he set up Virgin trains with the intention of bringing in a partner after he had the franchise. He competed against Stagecoach for the West Coast franchise, and it was only after Virgin had been running the trains for over a year that Stagecoach bought into it, because it was not going well. Was that the plan?

User avatar
Woodchopper
Stummy Beige
Posts: 3695
Joined: Sat Oct 12, 2019 9:05 am

Re: The new Space Race

Post by Woodchopper » Mon Jul 12, 2021 4:21 pm

WFJ wrote:
Sun Jul 11, 2021 4:51 pm
Beardy flew to 88 km which is not normally considered space, except by early US test pilots. Are his planes not able to reach 100 km, or did they just not bother for this test flight? If they are, it's a bit underwhelming for him to try to fly to space but miss.
The sky is black, he could see the curvature of the earth, and the people inside the vessel experienced weightlessness. That would count as space to most people.

monkey
Catbabel
Posts: 683
Joined: Wed Nov 13, 2019 5:10 pm

Re: The new Space Race

Post by monkey » Mon Jul 12, 2021 4:40 pm

Woodchopper wrote:
Mon Jul 12, 2021 4:21 pm
WFJ wrote:
Sun Jul 11, 2021 4:51 pm
Beardy flew to 88 km which is not normally considered space, except by early US test pilots. Are his planes not able to reach 100 km, or did they just not bother for this test flight? If they are, it's a bit underwhelming for him to try to fly to space but miss.
The sky is black, he could see the curvature of the earth, and the people inside the vessel experienced weightlessness. That would count as space to most people.
I think most people are choosing whether this was space or not based on whether they dislike Branson or Bezos more.

Post Reply